interesting project the other day, mapping out the penetration of Facebook in different countries around the world. It's amazing to see how something that just a few years ago was a small networking site for college students has become a worldwide force which has signed up more than half the population in several developed countries.
In Europe the geographic trend is pretty clear to see – Northern Europeans are the most likely to be on Facebook, which Eastern Europeans are the least likely. Iceland has the highest level of Facebook penetration, with 59% of its population signed up to the site. The UK and Denmark are tied for second place, each with 45% of their population signed up. This is more than in the homeland of Facebook – 42% of Americans have a profile on the site.
The lowest level of Facebook usage within the EU is in Latvia, with just 6% of people using the site. Next is Poland with 8%. And in third to last place comes, hang on – Germany? It's true, only 13% of Germans have a profile on Facebook.
The German example appears to buck the trend of the wealthier and more internet-connected countries having the highest levels of Facebook usage. But the Germans have their own wildly popular social networking site, StudiVZ. I had heard before that this was the most popular social networking site in Germany, but I had assumed people used it in addition to Facebook. After all use of the site is limited to university students, just as Facebook was before 2006.
The internets tell me that something called Hyves is the most popular social networking site in the Netherlands. But looking at the site, I don't see how this can be a replacement for Facebook – it's nothing like it. So, to my Dutch readers I ask the same question – what's going on!?
Southern Europe seems to be pretty consistent with its Facebook percentages, with all countries having a penetration around 25%. Turkey has a noticeably high percentage of users, particularly compared to its Middle Eastern neighbours. I also note that Estonia's 18% seems rather small given that that "e-country" is always bragging about how internet-connected it is (universal wifi and they vote in national elections online!).
And when Facebook gets mentioned in ads for other products, you know they don't have to spend a lot of time or money on self-promotion! So what is it about some populations - Germany for example - that have made them so Facebook-resistant? And why have others so eaily fallen prey? It's fascinating really!